Published: 31 May 2016

The Bass Cadet Records duo take us on a percussive journey.

While it would come as no surprise to Berliners that the guys behind the counter at Neukölln’s Bass Cadet Recordstore are the real deal, their combined efforts under the Arcarsenal name have recently demanded warm praise further afield thanks to some stormy dub techno works for the French label Rue De Plaisance, a new live set fusing live percussion and hardware synths, plus a continual stream of must-have releases on their labels. Earlier this month the Bass Cadet Records family launched Orbits, a sublabel aimed at sharing music from the artists that have supported and inspired them along the way, with the immeasurably inspiring Ron Trent opening the vaults to two of his classic works that had previously only seen daylight on the digital format. Fittingly it’s Trent’s inspiration that shines through most in their addition to our series, a soul filled affair showcasing the lifeblood of their extensive record crates.

To start could you give us a brief history of the Bass Cadet label and record shop you guys run in Berlin… Was the transition from label to record store one that you had always hoped to make?

It’s a good question as our family can be a little complex to picture exactly. At the very beginning, we met in 2010 when we both moved to Berlin and we started to make some music in Alan’s flat. After a short while, we met Atilla and his brother Tolga. We spent nights chatting about music and influences and at some point we decided that we should get together to set up a label and release our material. We started with Brotherhood EP our first release in 2012, then Tolga and Atilla as Helvert in 2013.

At that time, Laura who’s Etienne best friend, joined him in Berlin and proposed him to work on a shop project including a record store section. So they naturally named it after the label… It became BCR/DBR our little nest in Neukölln. So the record store wasn’t planned at all in the label vision at the very beginning, but it popped up naturally. Since then it has become a hub as most of us live nearby in the neighborhood and we have our headquarters there. Today we have a larger family as Laura started her booking agency On Board Music, where she manages us as Arcarsenal amongst other artists, and we have a little network of labels around Bass Cadet.

Atilla launched Tape Archive, Tolga will follow up with his own very personal project TFR this June, Orbits is the store’s in-house label and our friend Matthieu working with us behind the counter is running the Altered Soul Experiment cassette label. Also our good friend Fede of Finest Hour makes the distribution for most of these labels through Off The Grid… And we share a studio space with some of them. So the store helped to gather lot of creative energies around us and we feel now really comfortable within this tiny world.

Earlier this month you released the first of a new series on the label, which you describe as being ‘dedicated to the artists who support it and make its life’, what can you tell us about Ron Trent’s influence on you guys, and how did you go about approaching a reissue of two of his timeless cuts ‘Hooked On Your Love’ and ‘Welcome’?

Since the very beginning of the store we’ve been supported by artists we are really admiring. It kind of overwhelmed us to see all these people we respected so much to come, put some interest and support what we do. So naturally as the store was taking firm shape, we thought about doing an offshoot and be able to release some of their music. We feel we owe a lot to them so that’s a way to give them back, particularly for Aybee, he’s been supporting us since the beginning and we exchanged a lot of things, ideas and feelings… He’s kind of an older brother for us.

Etienne met Ron Trent through Aybee at the store and we linked up tighter when, with our friends of JAW Family, we organized this party called Young Soul in 2015. That was a really exceptional moment. From then it became clear that Ron would be the best to open the series. Etienne had a crush on these two tracks 5 or 6 years ago, but figured out they weren’t available on wax to be played so naturally we asked Ron if he would be ok to release them and here we are. On Ron Trent himself, meeting him was a great honor, to us he’s one of the best producers around and brings with him a huge knowledge about dance music, its roots and music in general. You can really feel it in his tracks. He had a really decisive influence on some ways we feel the music. And we always have a good bunch of his records in our DJ bags.

You’ve been frequent contributors to Varoslav’s Rue De Plaisance label in recent times, how did this special connection come about, and what might be next?

The connection with Rue De Plaisance came through our friend Alan Doe who released an EP on the label before us. We sent some tracks to Varoslav and he replied us with this great proposal of releases. He fell in love with the ambient and dub tracks we sent him and offered us to have a full artist EP and to be featured on the Son De La Rue compilation with an ambient track. We are really attached to the fact that we don’t want to only feature dance music on our releases. So when he offered us the chance to release a 9 minutes – 110BPM hazy dub/ambient track on the full a-side, we jumped on it! And the artworks from Virassamy are the icing on the cake. It’s a great pleasure to work with them as we really need to feel the guys we are working with. Jus-Ed also taught us this “family” behavior within a label and we’re really pleased to be able to work with this kind of people. Next up with Rue De Plaisance, we’ll be touring with for label nights with our live set, as we’ll take part of their Sonar OFF event on 18th of June and their Rex Club residency in July in Paris. Nothing is planned on the release side, but working with them again would be a great pleasure.

We’ve seen some cheeky snippets and a few gear-heavy pics of your new live set… How have the first few club shows been received, and how have you guys been approaching each set?

Well, this is a truely amazing experience. We always had a DJ approach, working back to back in our sets, and moreover since the store has its reputation set up. But as a production team we always felt that we were missing something in performing and we always wanted to push out the boundaries of our studio work. So we finally made it happen last winter, locking us up in the studio, going through configuration problems and working out the perfect set up for us to start touring. The only logistical restrictions were that we wanted to have live percussions and we didn’t want to have a computer with us on stage.

arcarsenal perc
Arcarsenal’s live rig.

We’ve been playing it out at Tresor, Le Sucre in Lyon, the amazing party La Serre in Bordeaux and Griessmuehle in Berlin and so far we had great reactions from all the crowds, especially on the live percussion. Every crowd was different but we managed to work with mostly the same tracks in order to make us a first strong experience of bringing your own music live on stage. So now with this experience we’re back in the studio to put some more work into it, do new tracks to be able to go further, bringing new ideas, being more flexible and let ourselves go easily in different territories. Most of our next gigs will be live now, and we are really excited about what’s waiting for us next. But in the end we’ll never give up the deejaying because we are too much attached to this form of expression. It’s two very different approaches for us. With one you build up a new story each time and once you’ve got the crowd drive it wherever you feel like for hours. And with the passion of finding new exciting records you never get bored playing. With the live it’s more a concentrate of pure energy. You totally give yourself to the crowd and there’s no safety net. It actually reminds us a lot of when we were teenagers and playing gigs in bands.

What can you tell us about the mix you’ve put together for us?

We worked it out in several takes at the store. There’s a good DJ booth there so that’s where we usually get to spin some records together. But as we are running after studio time to work on the live set we’ve tried to record it when the store was open to save some time. It can be a bit complicated with customers around, so we had to redo it couple of times before we were happy with it. But it was a funny experience. We gathered some of the records we bought recently, some from our friends and a couple of obscure oldies coming from the cheap bin that always worked out in our set. We also put an exclusive track from Tolga to be featured on his next release. The recording is bringing different facets of what we like, and we’ve been trying to showcase what we would build up within the course of a three hour set in natural club conditions but reduced into one hour. Going from some stripped down percussive beats, deeper techno things to some more soulful house, always with a twist. It was a bit weird to record a DJ mix right at the time that we are rehearsing and working a lot on the live set, but it gave us a nice respiration out of all this mess.

What else do you have coming up?

Coming next on the label, BCR005 will see Etienne release a solo EP as Solune in September, then we’ll have Jenifa Mayanja with DJ Jus-Ed on the remix duty for Orbit 02 and hopefully before the end of the year a BCR006 by Arcarsenal. We’ll try to keep up with a busier release schedule than previously now that we have a more fluent flow with the store’s organization. But it’s always more complicated than what you think. We are also working at the moment on a new Finest Hour EP to be in release before the end of the year too, and we have a lot of new material to record with all the stuff we created for the live set. So the second part of the year will still be busy in the studio, but we are also working on a heavy touring schedule with Laura, so lot of work ahead!

Tracklist:

Jungle Wonz – Bird In A Guilded Cage (Jungle Accapella)
Silvio Manuel – La Danza De Las Fantasma
Dorisburg – Time Stretch Totem
Tolga Fidan – Nebula
Jaymz Nylon – Yamaya (DJ Qu 4AM Deep Mix)
Filsonik – Orishas
Arcarsenal – Enhanced Visions Of Matter
Robert Grillo – Smoke And Mirrors
Community Recordings – Lifted Soul (Late Nite Dub)
Trinidadian Deep – Spirit Speaks
Ron Trent – Sensual Drums
Abicah Soul Project – Chuckie’s Turn
Patrice Scott – The Detroit Upright
2030 – Aries

Cover photo credit: Inès Berra Viola